National Geographic : 1963 Jan
Hand axes thousands of years apart show slight differences to the trained eye of Dr. Leakey (right), who holds a sharp-edged tool of some 300,000 years ago. Dr. Leonard Carmichael, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and Chairman of the Society's Committee for Research and Exploration, which sponsors Dr. Leakey's work, examines an earlier ax. Bush rims the farm of Fred D. P. Wicker (left), for whom Dr. Leakey named Kenyapithecus wickeri. Mr. Wicker chats with Richard E. Leakey, one of the author's sons, at Fort Ternan. R. 106. For some reason both of us had been drawn again and again to this particular site. I had found an interesting fossil crocodile skull about 50 yards from the cliff at 106, and I was working on that while Mary again ex plored the cliff face itself. Mary was scanning the slope when sudden ly she saw a tooth projecting from it, just a speck of gray fossilized enamel. She looked once more and then shouted for me to come. Together we slowly cleared a little of the rock face with dental picks, the ideal tools for such delicate work. As the rock came 136 away, we discovered that behind the tooth lay another tooth, and something more be hind that. Perhaps, we thought with grow ing excitement, there might even be an entire jaw and skull. It was painstaking work, but after several days we had all the pieces out and began put ting our fossil jigsaw puzzle together. At last we could see what we had: Mary had dis covered a nearly complete skull of Proconsul africanus, an early Miocene creature which many scientists believe represents the com mon stock leading to both man and the apes.